Navigating Washington Home Inspections: A Guide for Homebuyers

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Updated on August 30th, 2023

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When embarking on the exciting journey of buying a new home in Washington, there’s a crucial step that should never be overlooked: the home inspection. A home inspection is a complete assessment of a house’s condition. Whether you’re buying a house in Tacoma or hunting for homes in Spokane, a thorough inspection can mean the difference between a smooth transition into your dream home and unexpected post-purchase challenges. That’s why we reached out to Washington home inspectors to get their best insights. Here’s what they had to say.

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Why should you get a home inspection in Washington?

“Every home has its quirks, but some are more consequential than others,” says Isaac McPhee of Strong Foundations Home Inspection. “In any real estate transaction, one of the most important questions is whether the home has any hidden surprises waiting to cost the buyer (or seller) significant amounts of money. Home inspections exist to shine light on the home’s true condition, to limit potential surprises, and to provide peace of mind. As inspectors, we exist to provide peace of mind, and it’s hard to put a price on that.”

Homeowners often overlook seemingly minor cracks and defects. According to Matt Johnson of INW Home Inspection, an experienced home inspector will investigate these further. He adds that around 5% of the time, what may seem like a minor problem, reveals a structural issue. 

“A home inspection is the best way to ensure that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision on your prospective home,” says Hunter Taylor of Centurion Home Inspection.

In addition to helping you assess your potential investment, a home inspection can be a an educational opportunity for buyers. ““A home inspection is important for clients because while your inspector may uncover serious or costly issues to fix and repair, it’s also a great opportunity for clients and agents to learn about home maintenance, common issues, and other useful information directly from their inspector,” says Lee Doran of Doran Home Inspections LLC. “Clients and agents should look at inspections as an opportunity to learn as much as possible from their inspector and use them as a resource to protect and preserve their investment moving forward.”

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Are there any specialized inspections that Washington buyers should consider?

While a standard home inspection is typically advised for all homebuyers, prudent purchasers take extra care by arranging for specialized home inspections, particularly for older properties or those with unique attributes. Covering everything from the roof to the foundation, there are a variety of specialized inspections worth considering before finalizing your home purchase.

“A thorough home inspection including an infrared scan of the critical areas is essential to understanding the condition of the home you are investing in,” says Gregg Spear of Spear Home Inspection Inc. “Adding a sewer scope can help identify unknown defects in the building sewer line that could become a future problem for you.” 

In addition, Gal Zamir of AirGanic recommends getting your insulation inspected. “We highly recommend having a dedicated inspection for Insulation levels throughout the crawl space and Attic and a detailed HVAC system inspection, this will allow you to have a full understanding of your potential home energy consumption and Indoor air quality levels.”

“Consider requesting a separate sewer scope during your home inspection, as it’s not usually included,” says Carmin Dalziel of Dirt Cheap Sewer. “Overlooking sewer problems could lead to significant post-purchase costs. Opting for a camera scope of the sewer system helps you make well-informed decisions before buying.”

Lindsey Smith of Top Notch Home Inspection says that you should choose an inspector with a structural pest inspection license. “Given the state’s climate and potential pest challenges, this license ensures that the inspector is qualified to identify and address any pest-related issues alongside general structural concerns,” Smith says. “This dual expertise will provide you with a comprehensive assessment of the property’s condition, aiding your decision-making process and potentially preventing future financial burdens.”

Are home inspections required in Washington?

In Washington, home inspections are not legally required by the state for the sale of a property. However, they are highly recommended and often considered a prudent step in the home buying process. A thorough inspection can uncover potential issues that might not be evident during a casual walkthrough, helping buyers make informed decisions about the condition of the property.

“A qualified home inspector will highlight unique components of the home and general concerns,” says John from Top Rung Home Inspection Services. “Additionally, the inspector will also include specific recommendations on needed maintenance and repairs as a part of the home inspection report. This information provides the client with valuable knowledge necessary to make an informed home purchase decision.”

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How much does a home inspection cost in Washington?

The cost of a home inspection in Washington can vary based on factors such as the size of the property, its location, and the specific services offered by the inspector. On average, home inspection costs in Washington typically range from around $200 to $600. It’s important to remember that while cost is a factor, the quality and thoroughness of the inspection are equally important considerations.

Can you sell a house in Washington without an inspection?

Yes, you can sell a house in Washington without a formal inspection being legally mandated. However, it’s worth noting that many buyers in the state often request or expect an inspection as part of the due diligence process. Opting for a pre-sale inspection before listing your home can provide you with a better understanding of its condition, potentially allowing you to address any issues upfront and present the property in a more favorable light to potential buyers.

“Current inspection trends are leaning towards pre-listing inspections,” says Michael Bartlett of Custom Home Inspections. “Pre-listing your home can highlight defects that you may have been unaware of. This will allow you time to make necessary repairs or anticipate the request of one. Most of the time a prospective buyer elects to waive their inspection because of one being completed by the seller. This streamlines the selling process.”

Shaun from HomeBridge Inspections also recommends getting a pre-listing inspection. “A Pre-listing inspection is a great tool while preparing to sell your home.  There may be concerns within the property that you are unaware of that you can address prior to listing. The inspection report often helps you sell your home faster because you can present the report to potential buyers for viewing.”

Tips for getting a home inspection in Washington 

“Before a home inspection, it’s essential to invest time in researching reputable and experienced inspectors,” says Liberty Inspection Services. “Check reviews, seek recommendations, and confirm their licensing and certification. Understand that an inspector evaluates visible areas, but hidden issues might demand additional investigation. If feasible, join the inspection to directly comprehend the property’s state and potential concerns.”

Andy Sanchez from Inspect NW says to always make sure your inspector is licensed. “The WA State Dept of Licensing has Standards of Practice set forth for licensed home inspectors. These are guidelines that basically state what inspectors are required to inspect. Also, make sure you attend the inspection if you can. This allows the inspector the opportunity to convey their findings in a manner that you will be able to understand when you are reading the final report. Also, ask questions; if you think of anything concerning to you prior to the inspection write it down.”

“Using a home inspector referred by your broker can present a potential conflict of interest,” says Lawrence Karwoski of Advanced Inspection Services Inc. “While your broker may have good intentions, it’s important to remember that their primary goal is to close the deal, which might influence their recommendation as they typically have experienced many inspectors. To ensure an unbiased inspection and accurate assessment of the property’s condition, it’s generally recommended to find and hire your own independent home inspector. This way, you can be more confident that the inspection report will be impartial and thorough, without any potential pressures or biases that might arise from using a recommended inspector.”

“Making an informed decision about a huge investment is essential, and discovering significant issues after purchase can be heartbreaking and costly,” says Gabriel Emeka of  West Sound Home Inspections.  “Don’t be blindsided by issues you didn’t notice during the walkthrough. If you really want to know what you’re getting yourself into, it pays to hire a pro who will inspect the home from top to bottom.”

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Washington home inspections: the bottom line

Buying a home is a major decision. Before you commit to purchasing your dream home, taking the step to have a thorough Washington home inspection can provide invaluable peace of mind. By identifying potential issues and ensuring the property’s condition aligns with your expectations, this inspection adds an extra layer of confidence to your investment.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.
Chibuzo Ezeokeke

Chibuzo Ezeokeke

Chibuzo is a Content Marketing Specialist on Redfin’s content marketing team. He’s been with Redfin for over two years and enjoys running and playing basketball when he’s not writing. His dream home is a Mediterranean-style house with a large kitchen and plenty of windows.

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